Lotus AFD Concept

Lotus Cars presents an all new Elise based pick-up concept that is intended to go in production later in 2006

Press Release: The Lotus AFD is an Elise-derived flatbed concept that seeks to secure a slice of the ever-growing worldwide market for sportscar-derived pickup trucks.

Utilising a Briggs and Stratton pull-start diesel engine, uniquely supercharged by Lotus's own engineers, the AFD is the first Lotus to marry advanced 4-wheel drive technology with the Lotus design philosophy of 'performance through lightweight'. A useful 5kg payload, together with an optional towing hitch offering a further 10kg of load-hauling capacity, ensures the new Lotus will be equally at home carrying a small bag of sugar as an expanded polystyrene surfboard.

With carbon fibre roof rails and perforated aluminium bull bars ensuring the new Elise derivative looks the part without compromising performance, hopes are high that 0-60mph acceleration is less than 3 seconds, and will have flatbed fans reaching for their chequebooks.

An active payload management system, linked to the engine's oil pressure control module, optimises ride and handling round even the sharpest bend, while big chunky tyres increase ground clearance to an all-terrain-conquering 4 inches.

Trevor Houghton-Berry, Lotus Head of Commercial Operations looked to the future 'The AFD is our first move into the lucrative LCV market and certainly lives up to the Lotus philosophy of 'change the rules'.

We like trucking and we like to truck!'

Mark O'Shaughnessy, Lotus USA Sales and Marketing Director commented, 'We can no longer ignore Lotus's big opportunity in the pickup market - we want a slice of the action and are gunning for a 0.0026% market share this year and 0.0027% next. The AFD will be known as the F1.50 stateside and we are set to take the market by storm. 200 Lotus Elise F1.50's in the first year? Bring them on

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EU & US file WTO complaint on China over auto parts

The United States and the European Union, initiated a World Trade Organization complaint on Thursday against China, alleging that Beijing is unfairly blocking foreign-made auto parts.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "Consultations will allow us to clarify the legal issues and find a mutually satisfactory solution. It remains my strong preference and intention to seek an amicable solution to this issue".

A statement from the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said China's taxes on imported auto parts "discourage automobile manufacturers in China from using imported auto parts in the assembly of vehicles." The USTR said this is inconsistent with China's WTO commitments.

The EU first raised the issue of its tariffs on car parts in 2004. The EU requested action to address the problem at the EU-China Joint Trade Committee in October 2005. The European Union had then urged China to eliminate trade restrictions harming companies from Arcelor SA to Volkswagen AG and threatened to bring its first World Trade Organization complaint against the communist nation.

What is the issue?

The EU believes that Chinese tariff laws for spare auto parts are WTO-incompatible. Chinese rules apply the tariffs for "whole vehicles" to the import of spare parts making up 60% or more of the value of a final vehicle. The EU believes that this may contravene China's WTO obligations not to impose obligatory "local content" rules: to avoid the "whole car" tariff rates a car-maker has to source 40% or more of the spare parts by value in China. The EU believes it may constitute an internal tax on imported goods - because the tariff is levied on a finished product constructed with imported parts and the same rates are not applied to cars produced with local spare parts.

This can be problematic for EU producers in China who are not able to import parts from their own factories in Europe without unfair tariffs. The EU has about 20-25% of the car production market in China.

What does China say?

China claims that the measures are designed to avoid circumvention (ie, the prevention of the importing whole cars as spare parts to avoid the higher tariff rates for whole cars). However the WTO has found in the past that the objective of measures does not justify their form - and in this case the measures appear to the EU to be WTO-incompatible. At the time of its WTO accession, China committed itself not to treat parts as whole cars.

What happens now?

The request for consultations has been filed with the WTO in Geneva today. China has 10 days to respond to the request and is obligated by WTO rules to enter in consultations in good faith within 30 days. If the issue cannot be resolved in consultations within 60 days then the parties have the option of requesting a WTO panel to hear and rule on the dispute.

What does this mean?

The chances are that the EU & US will win this case, thus meaning that American & European automanufacturers will be able to create a super low price car part bin, by shopping from the cheapest possible sources around world. Then, they will go to the world’s lowest paid labor hand country -China, assembling these parts into a real car....Genius

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2007 Lexus LS Hybrid to Make World Debut at New York

Lexus will unveil its all-new LS luxury hybrid sedan next month at the New York International Automobile Show. Arriving next year, Lexus's hybrid version of the upcoming model-year 2007 LS sedan will introduce impressive new standards in styling, engineering, technology, safety and performance.

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Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept

Making its world premiere at the Stockholm Motor Show today, the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept delivers zero CO2 emissions with enhanced performance by combining the use of pure bioethanol fuel and electric power generation for the first time.

Packing formidable pulling power from its 260 bhp (191 kW) 2.0-litre turbo BioPower engine and 53 kW electric motors, the BioPower Hybrid Concept is equipped with an with automatic transmission accelerating from zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, a substantial improvement against 8.8 seconds for the equivalent petrol model. Even more impressive is 80 to 120 km/h acceleration on 'kick-down' in only 5.5 seconds.

The all-aluminum 2.0-litre BioPower engine is modified to run on pure E100 bioethanol fuel, giving zero CO2 exhaust emissions, and operates in tandem with the electrical power system. This offers fuel-saving stop/start functionality, torque boosting electric power assistance on demand, an electric-only 'Zero Mode' for city driving and regenerative braking.

It should be mentioned that the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept is the first project to be announced under a joint investment programme between General Motors R&D (Research and Development) and the Swedish Government.
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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 V6 US Version

Mitsubishi announced that it will debute the North American market version of the Outlander SUV model at the upcoming New York Auto Show. Launched in Japan in October last year, the US Outlander will be powered by a 3-liter V6 MIVEC coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters that allow the driver to change gear manually without having to take his hand off the steering wheel.

The new Outlander offers two drive formats: the electronically controlled 4WD system and a front-wheel drive version tailored to the North American market.

Like the Japanese model, the new Outlander will use a newly design high-rigidity platform that realizes improved impact safety and an aluminum roof panel that lowers center of gravity and reduces roll inertia for improved handling performance and ride.

As for its utility performance, the Outlander has a split tailgate ("Flap-fold tailgate") that facilitates the loading of different sizes and weights of luggage. But most important for the US market, it will be available with a 7-seat layout that features two occasional-use third row seats stored flat under the floor ("Underfloor-stowable compact 3rd row seat")

Technology hallmarks of the new Outlander, include a standard Bluetooth(R) hands-free cellular phone interface, advanced FAST-Key access system, and optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate(R) audio system and DVD entertainment. A new hard-drive navigation system will be available as an option

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2007 Suzuki XL7 & SX4

Suzuki officially announced that it is going to stage the World Premiere of it’s all new XL7 SUV model and the North American Debut of it's SX4 compact SUV at the 2006 New York International Auto Show. Although Suzuki hasn’t given us any photos –yet, of its midsize SUV, we get some preliminary specifications of the car as its body size and the engine that will equip the 2007 XL7, a 3.6 V6 DOCH motor.


In the creation of the XL7, Suzuki leveraged its SUV heritage and expertise to design an all-new vehicle for the midsize SUV crossover segment, providing style, room and adaptability for mobile lifestyles. The 2007 SuzukiXL7, equipped with a 3.6-liter, V6 DOHC engine, defines the new direction of the midsize SUV crossover market and is one of the first entries to combine room for family and cargo with performance, style and comfort not previously associated with midsize SUVs.

The all-new XL7 has cargo and seating flexibility for all aspects of active lifestyles, on-road performance capabilities, sleek and distinctive style and advanced safety features that provide a confident feeling of being in control in any condition. Suzuki's new generation midsize SUV crossover is slated to go on sale in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2006.

2007 Suzuki XL7 Specifications:

Wheelbase: 112.4-in./ 2,857mm

Overall width: 72.2-in./ 1,835mm

Overall length: 196.6-in./ 4,995mm

Overall height: 68.9-in./ 1,750mm

Suzuki SX4

Globally introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2006, the SuzukiSX4 compact sport X-over with AWD will make its North American debut at the NYIAS. The all-new SX4 features a versatile, rigid five-door design, a standard all-wheel-drive system and for the U.S. market, a sophisticated fuel-sipping 2.0-liter DOHC engine.

The Suzuki SX4's advanced intelligent all-wheel-drive system (i-AWD) sends power to the rear wheels as needed with no additional input necessary from thedriver. Called the Three-Mode Switchable AWD system, it features a selector switch on the center console that allows the driver to select from three modes: 2WD, AUTO (AWD High) and LOCK (AWD Lock). Customers in the United States will have a choice of a five-speed manual transmission or an available four-speed automatic transmission.

With its contemporary styling, high-output engine, the security of AWD and ABS and five-door versatility, the all-new Suzuki SX4 delivers the bold attitude and performance designed for those who live an adventurous life. TheSX4 is slated to go on sale in the United States in the third quarter of 2006.

2007 Suzuki SX4 Specifications

Wheelbase: 98.4-in./ 2,500mm

Overall width: 69.1-in./ 1,755mm

Overall length: 162.8-in./ 4,135mm

Overall height: 63.2-in./ 1,605mm

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Holden Thunder Ute & Thunder Crewman

Holden Unleashes Thunder Ute and Crewman with 235 & 355 Hp engines

GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden, is keeping the muscle-car flame alive even in its Ute range as the Auzzies unveiled another version of their popular light commercial model, based on the Commodore (which is actually based on the Opel Omega & Cadillac Catera…)

The special edition “Thunder” models for the 2door Ute and 4door Crewman represent up to $3500 (2.480 US $) in extra value and are available on S Ute, SS Ute and SS Crewman. They will be in Holden dealerships by April 2006.

The Thunder SS models are powered by Holden’s new Gen 4 V8 engine which delivers 260kW or 355 Hp of peak power at 5600rpm and 510Nm or 56 kgm of peak torque at 4400rpm. The Thunder S Ute boasts the advanced 172 kW or 235 Hp Alloytec V6 engine made at Holden’s Port Melbourne engine plant.

“Thunder” Ute and Crewman additional feature highlights:


Sports Hard Tonneau – S Ute, SS Ute

Hard Tonneau – SS Crewman

17-inch alloy wheels – SS Crewman (alloy spare)

18-inch alloy wheels – S Ute (steel spare), SS Ute (alloy spare)

Special edition 'Thunder' badging


Colour Coded Leather Seats – SS Ute

Anthracite Leather seats – S Ute, SS Crewman

Recommended Retail Pricing:

Thunder S Ute: Manual $33,990 (24.100 US $) automatic $34,990 (24.800 US $)

Thunder SS Ute: Manual and automatic $42,490 (30.110 US $)

Thunder SS Crewman: Manual and automatic $48,690 (34.500 US $)

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Range Rover Sport HST

The brits try to give the Range Rover Sport a “Stormier” look

Land Rover revealed a new version of its Range Rover Sport model. Titled HST, the car basically adds a host of additional equipment along with design cues inspired by the Range Stormer concept car, first shown in Detroit.

"The HST allows a Range Rover Sport customer to drive the closest thing there is to the radical Range Stormer, our first ever concept vehicle and a real milestone for the company. It's the extreme version of the Range Rover Sport, the design that will be chosen by those who want to stand out from the crowd." says Land Rover UK managing director, John Edwards.

The new HST will be based on the Supercharged specification with the additional equipment including: electric sunroof, an electronic active locking rear differential and privacy glass. The interior is distinguished by a unique hand polished lined oak trim.

The exterior design includes new flush-fitting front and rear bumpers and a new larger open-mouth grille. The front lower air intake is deeper and new front fog lamps are mounted in the spoiler. The lower doors and lower rear boot are body-coloured, making the body sides appear deeper, accentuating the vehicles road-hugging qualities. A new tail spoiler is also fitted, and the special rectangular tail-pipes are close to those used on the original Range Stormer concept vehicle.

Further visual impact is provided by the 20 inch 'Stormer' alloy wheels, chromed aluminium side vents and body-coloured door mirror cappings, unique to this derivative.

The HST will be available in five colours; Bonatti Grey, Cairns Blue, Java Black, Rimini Red and Zermatt Silver. Performance figures are the same as the standard Supercharged model.

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Acura MDX Concept

Acura is going to preview an all new MDX concept at the New York International Auto Show. Product version following later this year

Celebrating its 20th anniversary as a brand, Acura announced plans to debut a concept version of the all-new MDX luxury sport-utility vehicle, April 12, at the New York International Auto Show and released an artist's rendering of the new vehicle. Scheduled to debut later this year, the 2007 Acura MDX will be the second generation of Acura's luxury SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured exclusively in North America.

"The 2007 MDX will speak clearly to the advanced image of Acura and promises to put MDX solidly at the front of the pack with a striking new image, new technology and performance unmatched in the segment," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The designers and engineers working on this new MDX have a tremendous passion for this product that will be evident in all aspects of its design and performance."

The past…

Launched on March 27, 1986, Acura was the world's first Japanese luxury nameplate and the first to challenge established European and American luxury marquees with its world-class engineering, product quality, value and advanced powertrain technology. Its 20-year history of innovation includes the first Japanese exotic sports car, the highly-acclaimed Acura NSX, and numerous technology firsts including the first automotive applications of in-dash navigation, Bluetooth(R) phone integration and DVD-Audio surround sound. Acura was also the first Japanese luxury automaker to develop and manufacturer its vehicles in North America, beginning with the 1997 Acura 2.2CL coupe. Today, nearly two-thirds of all Acura vehicles sold in America are designed, developed and manufactured in North America.

And the…future

In 2006, Acura will introduce two all-new models - the 2007 Acura MDX and the completely new RDX premium entry SUV. Equipped with an innovative new 2.3-liter turbocharged engine and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, the RDX combines sport-utility function with sports sedan handling and performance. The RDX will launch this summer as a 2007 model.

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2007 Volvo XC90 Facelift

At the end of May, Volvo is going to reveal a facelifted version of its XC90 SUV (2007 model). The most important exterior changes concern the new front & rear light clusters and redesigned bumpers that give the XC90 a more aggressive look. Also, the 2007 XC90 gets new auxiliary turn signals, which are housed in the side mirrors. In the interior Volvo enhances the XC90 with new materials and chrom-plated elements.

Aesthetics aside, the most significant change of the 2007 XC90 is well hidden under its hood as the Swedish SUV gets Volvo’s new straight 6 engine that was previewed in the 2007 S80. The 3,2 litre engine produces 235 Hp and a maximum torque of 320 Nm.

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2007 Chrysler 300 Long Wheelbase

New Chrysler 300 is six inches longer than current models, providing an additional 10.2 cubic feet of interior space. Engine options include the 3.5 V6 and the 5.7 V8 HEMI

Chrysler Group announced today that a new model—the 2007 Chrysler 300 Long Wheelbase — will be on display at the New York International Auto Show, in the Jacob K. Javits Center, April 14-23 in New York City. The Chrysler 300 Long Wheelbase is six inches longer than the current models, providing more than 46 inches of rear legroom and an additional 10.2 cubic feet of interior space. Available this fall, the lengthier Chrysler 300 is expected to attract sales from the livery/limousine industry, as well as retail customers.

"The 300 Long Wheelbase will have six inches more of the elegant, distinct design that made the Chrysler 300 the most-awarded new car in automotive history," said David Rooney, Director —Chrysler Marketing Communications."In addition, limousine-like features have been added and custom options are available. The result is a truly distinctive and personalized experience for commercial and retail customers, all for what will be an affordable price."

Both the 300 Touring and 300C Long Wheelbase models can be ordered with unique, personalized features, including lighted rear writing tables, two 12V power ports for computers/cell phones, footrests, lighted vanity mirrors and directional reading lights for passengers, and available custom paint colors or pinstriping.

The Chrysler 300 Touring Long Wheelbase model will be equipped with a 3.5 V6 engine, providing 250 hp, while the 300C Long Wheelbase will have the 5.7 V8 HEMI engine, generating 340 hp, and the Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which seamlessly reduces the number of cylinders from eight to four when less power is required.

The 300 Long Wheelbase will be modified by Accubuilt, a leading custom specialty vehicle manufacturer with more than 128 years of experience, based in Lima, Ohio, and will be sold through Chrysler dealerships. Pricing and production information will be provided closer to launch this fall.

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DaimlerChrysler axes the Smart Forfour

A few weeks after axing the Smart Roadster & Roadster-Coupe models, DaimlerChrysler announced that it is considering to terminate its most ambitious plan, the Forfour model.

Although officially, the plan to cut the Fourfor is yet to be approved by both the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board of DaimlerChrysler AG, “death” is just a matter of time for the 4door Smart model. The cost for DaimlerChrysler related to these measures is estimated to be in the magnitude of approximately €1 billion or $ 1.2 billion

PRESS RELEASE: Focusing on the smart fortwo

  • New smart fortwo to be launched in 2007
  • Cancellation of production of smart forfour intended, subject to negotiations with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and other partners
  • Sustainable profitability confirmed

DaimlerChrysler AG is planning to focus on the smart fortwo to ensure the long-term sustainability of its smart brand. Thus, the profitability of smart will be confirmed, with positive results expected from 2007 onward.The planned measures for a further enhancement of the business modell of smart include the following items:

  • The clear focus on the smart fortwo;
  • the intention to cancel production of the smart forfour;
  • the manifestation of smart and especially the smart fortwo as a long-term and important part of DaimlerChrysler’s product portfolio;
  • as well as the complete integration of smart into the Mercedes organization.

Overall, these measures are likely to result in a headcount reduction of 300 employees at smart in Böblingen. The smart forfour is produced by MMC through its wholly-owned subsidiary Netherlands Car B.V. (Nedcar) in Born, Netherlands. The cancellation of the forfour production is still subject to negotiations to be carried out with MMC and all other partners

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Porsche Boxster & Boxster S SportDesign package

Porsche is offering a new SportDesign package for the Boxster and Boxster S that promise to improve aerodynamics and give the roadster models an even sportier look. This new individualization option comprises spoiler lips for mounting on the standard front trim, an automatically extending, redesigned rear spoiler, and a modified rear trim with an integrated diffuser.

In addition to providing a particularly striking and sporty appearance, the new SportDesign package improves aerodynamics. The lifting forces on the front and rear axles are reduced without air resistance being increased, which further supports the vehicle’s finely-tuned, roadster-specific balance.

The shape of the rear trim with the integrated diffuser evokes a conscious association with the Carrera GT high-performance sports car. The automatically extending rear spoiler, which has been designed according to the divided wing principle, contributes further to this association. All of the SportDesign package’s attractive components are painted in the vehicle’s exterior color, and blend in harmoniously with the Boxster’s dynamic visuals.

Porsche is offering the SportDesign package worldwide. In Germany, it can be ordered from Porsche Exclusive for 4,060 Euros on purchase of a new vehicle. For retrofitting, it is available from Porsche Tequipment for 3,422 Euros plus labor.

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BMW Australia creates a TV Commercial for the 3 Series

BMW Australia brings five generations of the iconic 3 Series sports sedan to life on the screen

The advertisement traces the history of the iconic 3 Series from its genesis as the BMW 2002 in 1968 to the latest E90 3 Series Sedan, with all cars filmed on a race track, and seamlessly morphing from one generation to the next.

In creating the advertisement, BMW and its creative partner, Melbourne based Badjar Group, mixed the latest in computer generated imagery with awesome on track driving, and a unique 360-degree action pan shot of the current and previous generation 3 Series cars.

We created this television spot to show how the BMW 3 Series has always been fun to drive, is fun to drive today and will always be fun to drive. That’s what you’d expect from the cornerstone of the BMW brand,” says Tom Noble, General Manager, Marketing at BMW Group Australia.

Jack Room, executive creative director of BADJAR Group created a 45-second television spot that embodied the spirit of the BMW 3 Series. Armed with a vital knowledge base of the 3 Series history, the BADJAR creative team focused on the payoff line: “In 1968 BMW invented the sports sedan and never stopped re-inventing it”.

In the TVC, the cars morph through their generations to the climax, with the evocative music of the Body Rocker’s song “I Like The Way You Move” playing strongly. With the help of CGI – computer generated imaging – the BADJAR team spent two days on site at the Eastern Creek race track in Sydney filming and then worked their magic in the editing suite.

BADJAR had not done anything like the 3 Series creative for BMW previously. “We’ve done plenty of television commercials where we have used computer generated imaging, but not to this extent. The unique thing about this particular piece is that we wanted to have an archival feel to it to start with and then, as the whole thing progressed, end up with a much more contemporary feel, when the E46 3 Series morphed into the E90”, says Jack.

To enable that seamless transition, a special rig was built for the money shot, which involved mounting a camera for a 360-degree pan around both an E46 and E90 as one morphs into the other. After the shoot and with the genius of computers in the editing suite, the creatives took some footage of the spectacular mountains around Queenstown in New Zealand to slip into the background.

To see more click HERE

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Mazda Roadster NR-A

Mazda announced that it will release the NR-A version Mazda Roadster for sale at its Mazda and Mazda Anfini dealers throughout Japan in early April 2006. The Roadster is known as the MX-5 in overseas markets.

Designed with specifications that enable drivers to compete in NR-A category races after the addition of special racing kit, Mazda has been selling the base model NR-A Roadster since December 2001. Since then, the NR-A model Roadster has been favorably received by motorsports enthusiasts thanks to its reasonable cost and the added dimension of exhilarating driving possibilities that come with meeting the NR-A race requirements.

The new NR-A model Roadster is based on the third generation Roadster that underwent a complete redesign and launched in August 2005. Employing special equipment on the new Roadster NR-A model--height-adjustable Bilstein dampers, a torque-sensing 'Super LSD' (limited-slip differential), and front strut tower bars--makes this exciting new model more suitable for sporty driving.

The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Roadster MX-5 NR-A model is 2,300,000 yen, including sales tax. It is only available in the Japanese market. The new NR-A model was designed to participate in the "Roadster Party" One Make Races in Japan. These events are sponsored by Mazda and will be held from September 2006.

Technical specifications of the NR-A Roadster

Model name and type



Overall length/width/height

3,995mm x 1,720mm x 1,245mm




1,120kg (1,100kg with factory-installed aluminum wheels)

Minimum clearance


Seating capacity

2 people


Rack and pinion

Suspension (front/rear)

Double wishbone/multilink

Brakes (front/rear)

Ventilated disc/disc

Tires and wheels


205/50R16 87V


16x6 1/2JJ





Water-cooled inline 4-cylinder DOHC 16 valve



Compression ratio


Maximum output

125kW (170PS) /6,700rpm

Maximum torque

189Nm (19.3kg-m) /5,000rpm

Fuel supply system

EGI (Electronic Gasoline Injection)

Fuel & tank volume

Unleaded premium gasoline / 50 liters

10/15 mode fuel economy
(MLIT inspection values)


Main fuel economy improvement

Variable valve timing

Minimum turning radius


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